In an exclusive interview with Rise News, the man behind a viral Facebook post claiming that a South Carolina McDonald’s served him a moldy tea, stood by his comments even as the fast food giant seemed to reject his claims.
Brandon Benjamin posted to Facebook on September 1 that he had purchased a meal the night before at a McDonald’s located at 2390 Chestnut St in Orangeburg, SC. His message was colorful and quickly went viral:
“STOP eating McDonald’s and getting they’re [sic] tea. I went to McDonald’s last night and got myself a McChicken and peach cream pie with a $1 tea. I left my tea in the fridge thinking it’ll be alright tomorrow. I was ABSOLUTELY DISGUESTED [sic] with what I found in my cup. After taking 2 sips, it didn’t taste right at all. I poured out the tea and found this!!!!!!,” Benjamin wrote describing the photos he posted with the message.
In both a phone interview and in a Facebook message conversation, Benjamin stood by his comments and said that he was shocked by what he said was in his cup.
“Mold, gunk, bacteria was stuck alongside the inside of the cup,” Benjamin said. “I began to feel sick to my stomach after seeing what I took two large sips of.”
Benjamin also said that he was experiencing stomach issues that he believes to be related to the alleged moldy cup.
“There was quite a nasty smell- it was really horrible,” Benjamin said.
He also said that he was a longtime customer of that particular McDonald’s as it is close to his place of employment.
“This is my main location [McDonald’s] and they know who I am there,” Benjamin told Rise News. “I went through the drive-through. I went home and the tea tasted a little bitter on the drive there.”
Benjamin said that he has kept the cup as “evidence” and that he would be willing to take a lie detector test if asked to prove his level of truthfulness.
Rise News‘ request for comment to McDonald’s was forwarded to a public relations firm who provided a statement from the local owner and operator of the Orangeburg location in question.
“Operating a safe and clean restaurant for our customers is a top priority, and we take any complaints very seriously,” store owner Emory Main said. “When the customer returned to the restaurant the day after his purchase and brought it to our attention, our subsequent review of our equipment and operations lent no support to the customer’s allegations. We continually review our comprehensive operations to ensure our customers have the best restaurant and food experience.”
Benjamin said that he had in fact returned to the store to show the on call manager the cup.
“They offered me another tea and a free meal, which disgusted me,” Benjamin said.
“This could happen to anyone else. My family has talked to me about getting a lawyer which I may do,” Benjamin said.
Photo Credit: Brandon Benjamin/Facebook
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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Little Haiti Gentrification War: Business Owners Cry Racism As New Landlord Allegedly Forces Out Haitians
What’s News In This Story?
–A developer is forcing out Haitian owned businesses from two commercial strips that he recently bought near the intersection of NE 2nd Ave and 82 St in Miami.
–The developer, Thomas Conway has been accused of unfairly targeting Haitians and treating non-Haitians better.
–Most of the businesses are on month-to-month leases and Florida law allows for landlords to end those type leases with 15 days notices.
–Some of the businesses have been open for decades, including a Haitian owned tuxedo store that has been in operation for 32 years.
-Chronic road construction has also caused severe hardships for the businesses. One barbershop says that they have lost 60% of their customers over the last year due to the construction.
–Haitian community activists are calling for public officials to intervene and provide support to the affected businesses.
Little Haiti is about to get a whole lot whiter.
That’s if you believe dozens of Little Haiti business owners and community activists who are claiming that a real estate developer is forcing Haitians out of two commercial strips in a fast gentrifying area of Miami, while giving white owners better treatment.
The business strips are on the East and West side of NE 2nd Ave near the 82nd St intersection.
The buildings were recently purchased by Thomas Conway, a young real estate entrepreneur who has been active in the northern section of Little Haiti.
The buildings are full of dozens of business, ranging from a travel agency, to a bakery and a Metro PCS.
Most of the businesses are run by Haitians.
Over the past two months, local shop owners say that Conway has been trying to force them out.
Multiple owners claim that Conway has refused to accept their rent checks so he can get rid of them and court records obtained by the Miami Herald show that the new landlord has already started eviction proceedings on 13 of the 15 businesses at 8200 NE Second Ave. and 201 NE 82nd St.
Most of the businesses are on month to month leases and Florida law allows for landlords to end leases with only 15 days notice.
The situation has become so untenable that many of the business owners called a press conference on Thursday with the Haitian rights group Family Action Network Movement (FANM).
To add to to their misery, an ongoing construction project has ripped up parts of NE 2nd Ave for nearly a year and dramatically hurt business in the area.
The iconic Miami restaurant, Football Sandwich Shop has been closed for multiple months due to the same construction.
Marleine Bastien, the leader of FANM said that many business owners were angry that local authorities have not offered financial assistance to their struggling businesses.
“Some of them wonder, is this a way to get them out?,” Bastien asked during the press conference. “Because usually when businesses are impacted, they get some type of relief. But not these Haitian businesses.”
Bastien also said that Haitian businesses are facing discrimination because they were the only ones asked to leave by Conway.
Ramon Alvarez owns a barbershop on the strip of the westside of NE 2nd Ave.
Alvarez said that Conway lied to his face about what his intentions were about the future of the building and that the decision to force out his barbershop was racially motivated because of the Haitian staff he has.
“They see this as a black business,” Alvarez told RISE NEWS. “Everybody out. I don’t know, it’s scary.”
Alvarez said that Conway seemed very reasonable when the new landlord first approached him a few months ago after buying the property.
Alvarez said that Conway told him the plan was to fix up the building and put on a new roof.
Alvarez also said that Conway told him that the rent would gradually go up from the current $1,400 a month to $3,500 a month.
Alvarez said that he was ok with this new arrangement.
“I can manage it and If I can’t afford it one day I’m going to say, ‘Mr. Thomas, I got to go.'”
But Alvarez said that Conway changed his tune and even refused to accept a rent check.
Now, Alvarez said that he’s been told he is going to be evicted.
He’s not the only one.
“I’ve been eight years here,” Pierre Richard Maximillien, the owner of a travel agency said. “The guy next door to me who sells tuxedos and marriage dresses has been there 32 years. It’s a lifetime.”
A few doors down from Alvarez’s barber shop, Lucia Garcia runs The Furtnitue Store.
Garcia attended the press conference in support of the Haitian owners and said that she felt like Conway was treating her business differently than the others.
Garcia is Hispanic.
“We have not received any threats,” Garcia told RISE NEWS. “We have not received any eviction notices. We have been given until June to leave, supposedly due to construction. But we have received very different treatment.”
Lina Hargrett, the owner of the Empty Apartment said that she just recently signed a year lease to stay in the same building where Alvarez and Garcia have their businesses.
Hargrett said that she had not been asked to leave the building and seemed unaware of the controversy that was swirling.
Hargrett has a light complexion.
Hargrett’s store and the Metro PCS are the only two businesses that seem unaffected by the moves.
Both have two year leases.
Conway refused to speak to a reporter from RISE NEWS when reached via phone on Thursday, and hung up.
“Unfortunately, I can’t take this call at the moment,” Conway said before hanging up. “I appreciate it.”
In 2015, Conway opened MADE At The Citadel, a well-known co-working space on NE 2nd Ave and 83rd St.
It was reported in 2017 that he intends to turn the building across the street from MADE At The Citadel into a food hall.
A rendering for that building, which is called The Citadel, is available online.
Gary Louis has worked as a barber for over 15 years at the shop that Alvarez now owns.
He has to pay to keep his chair there and has stayed despite losing 60% of his business due to the road construction.
Louis said that he’s stayed because he was excited about the changes in the neighborhood and thought that he would prosper from them.
“The city hasn’t done anything for the Haitian community at all,” Louis said. “So now, something is brought to life where we’ve seen the city has finally taken care of the community. But now as I’m seeing it, it’s not being cleaned up for primarily the Haitian community. It’s just mainly for a new form of business that does not include the Haitian community at all.”
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This story is part of the “My Story” series by The Young Leaders.
It was a sunny morning in Haiti on January 12, 2010 – the first day of school after winter break.
Lying on my bed, I looked at the trees dancing on the ceiling.
The neighboring rooster crowed as I finally rose, put my knees on the floor and began to pray.
My mother, as always, was cooking eggs.
She spoke to me about education: “Son, you have to do well in school to succeed in life. Life and education are a competition. Please son, do not embarrass me. Avoid the wrong crowd. Promise me that good things will happen. Make your family proud wherever you go.”
As she spoke, I wondered why she told me these things.
At the time, I wasn’t mature enough to understand, so I agreed just to make her happy.
A few minutes later, I arrived at school. Already, I had fallen in with the wrong crowd, paid no attention in class, and decided not to do my homework.
After school on that day, I played marbles with friends until one of the elders in the community saw me playing and scolded me to go home and do my homework.
I listened to the elder and went home.
When I got there, my mother asked me, “Where were you?”
I replied, “Outside,” as she shook her head, obviously worried about that I was not following her instructions.
One hour later, the earth started trembling.
I heard a noise like boulders falling from the sky.
Our television and bookshelves fell to the floor.
I was terrified and thought my life would end.
We tried running away from the house, but the ground was shaking intensely.
I didn’t know what was happening.
I thought about all the advice my mother had given me.
I heard people screaming from outside, running everywhere and trying to save others stuck under demolished houses.
When I got out of the house looking around, I realized my mother and I could have been in the same position.
After the 7.0 shock-wave, my mother, my sister and I walked on the street and saw the catastrophe. Roughly 300,000 people were killed in the event and 1.5 million were displaced.
People had lost their families and everything they owned.
We were too afraid to sleep in the house, scared it would collapse.
We had no choice but to sleep on the street. The streets became beds for everyone when it’s was night-time. Aftershocks shook the ground every five minutes.
A week later, my father came from New York to get my sister and me.
I had never imagined myself leaving Haiti but there was no other choice.
I cried, and hugged my mother tightly.
In tears, I said, “Mother I’m sorry for everything. I will succeed; I will learn English and make you proud.”
My dad smiled.
I realized I would do everything in my power to make my parents proud. That moment would drive me for years to come.
When I came to America, I was ready to excel in school.
I knew no English, and communicating in school was extremely hard.
I started reading and writing to improve my English skills.
I knew I wanted to attend college.
I started working harder in classes, coming to school early every morning to study subjects that I needed to give closed attention, so I would not fall behind students who took their English for granted.
I challenged myself to become better in school by practicing for the SAT on my own and doing extra work in class.
It paid off. By the time high school came, I was in the English Honors class and the National Honor Society.
I started an acting program in high school named DreamYard Art Center. I began acting in plays with the goal of becoming an actor and a director.
I want to continue being successful and I plan on working very hard to accomplish my goals.
These goals have already helped me to achieve things I never imagine I would have achieved, such as acting in front of 300 people.
These skills will continue to help me as I pursue my education.
I am currently a junior studying Social Work at CUNY York College.
My goal after achieving my bachelor in social work is to go for my master in education policy.
I want to start my career as a school counselor, however I would like to elevate myself as a principal as time progresses.
After my studies, I want to build a school and an art program like DreamYard Art Center in Haiti for children.
My purpose in pursuing higher education is to succeed in ways victims of the January 2010 Haiti Earthquake only dreamed about, since they never had a chance to make their dreams a reality.
When I succeed, my goal is to start an art program in Haiti for teens that want to pursue their dreams.
This terrible tragedy led me onto the right path and made me focus on my education.
But Haiti is still in my heart. And I’m going back home.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.Post Views: 774
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There is one week in a college student’s spring semester that is far more cherished than all the others- spring break.
It is that sweet, sweet time when all of the dorms close down and students pack themselves into cars, driving across the country and searching for that perfect adventure or some much needed relaxation (especially after mid-terms).
There is nothing better than spending a week with your friends, but did you know that you can do that while making a positive impact on the community around you?
There are so many opportunities to do some good, while also enjoying your spring break with your friends, so you should definitely take advantage of them if you can.
Volunteering allows you to travel to some really cool places, meet new people, and it actually looks really great on a resume.
Here are a few ways to have fun and serve others during your week off:
1. Volunteer Abroad
This is a super fun way to see the world while also achieving positive change while you’re there.
In spring break programs that work abroad there is such a variety of available projects that you can definitely find something you’re interested in doing- and it might even complement your major!
On the trips, students can work on projects such as construction and renovation, teaching English and supporting children in school, and even assisting and shadowing physicians.
The International Volunteer Headquarters has some great volunteer opportunities abroad and you can find those here.
2. Go on a Mission Trip
Chances are, the religious organizations in your area are definitely planning some mission trips for students to take part in during spring break.
These are wonderful because they can be as close as volunteering in your local community, working three hours away, helping out in another state, or even going to an entirely different country.
You can enjoy time with your friends, make a difference in the community around you, and help to spread your religious beliefs.
Ask around in your area and I’m sure you can find a great mission trip to take part in!
3. Rebuild U.S. Homes and Communities Hit by Disaster
With the St. Bernard Project you can volunteer in cities across America, helping them to rebuild after being hit by a natural disaster.
The St. Bernard Project works to rebuild communities, prepare them for potential future disasters, and advocates for faster and improved recovery strategies.
This is a really unique chance to have a tangible impact on a family’s life! If you’re interested this spring break opportunity then you can look here for more information.
4. Volunteer in a National Park
Are you outdoorsy?
If so, then you should consider volunteering in a State Park for the week!
The American Hiking Society hosts a program that allows you to work with 8-15 students building and maintaining hiking trails in some of our nation’s most beautiful state parks.
I also feel like s’mores will probably be involved so that’s definitely a plus! You can find more information on these trips here.
5. Add Good Deeds to Your Spring Break Bucket List
If you’re a college student and you go somewhere fun for spring break, chances are you have a bucket list.
I’m sure it’s filled with so many exciting and crazy activities that you’re already wondering how you plan to accomplish them all, so what could adding one more item really hurt?
Consider making a goal of doing ten good deeds while you’re on your break.
They can be simple and inexpensive and even easy, but a little kindness can go a long way!
I hope these suggestions have inspired you to use your time off to make a difference.
Regardless of what you decide to do for your spring break, don’t forget your sunscreen, take a lot of pictures, and enjoy this little week of freedom!
Now, in the words of Minor Myers Jr., “Go out into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
Cover Photo Credit: Adam Bautz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.Post Views: 515
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